Value retailer Ackermans has connected all 436 of its stores across southern Africa using Metacom’s managed network and intelligent routers, which use a combination of ADSL, satellite and GSM to provide every point of sale with seamless, reliable connectivity, no matter how remote the location.

“Metacom is able to offer us a fully managed service that meets stringent SLAs,” says Conrad Reinke, IT Executive at Pepkor IT. “Most of our stores have ADSL and it is a good medium, but there is no guarantee of service; if it goes down, we have to wait in the queue for Telkom to fix it. So we need a reliable failover to GSM to keep the store online. Most of our customers are now paying using credit cards, so we cannot afford to be offline for even a minute.”

In addition, says Reinke, “some of our stores are in small towns where an ADSL line isn’t even an option. In that case we have to rely on GSM connections.”

Metacom’s intelligent routers have integrated ADSL, dual GSM SIM cards so that connections stay up, even if one network goes down, and can serve as WiFi hotspots. “We can offer excellent quality of service across multiple connection technologies because we manage our network actively,” says Metacom MD Réan van Niekerk. “We monitor every one of our devices around the clock to ensure that failover and recovery of service is seamless. Most of the time, our customers don’t even know when they have failed over from ADSL to 3G, or from one network to another.”

Reinke says the Pepkor group particularly values the fact that every store in the group can connect easily to the corporate network, whether it’s in Cape Town or Lagos. “With Metacom, the network configuration is always the same, so any store can plug seamlessly into our network, no matter whether they’re on ADSL, a cellular connection or even satellite.”

Van Niekerk says Metacom has also invested heavily to ensure the quality of its core network infrastructure: “We have a really solid backbone that connects to all the major networks, service providers, electronic switches and other partners we need to make the system work seamlessly. And we’re able to provide unrivalled reliability of communications at a cost that is attractive even for lean retailers like Ackermans.”